Well you guys know me. I post and then I get super busy and I don't LOL... 

I am now over 400 jars canned with a few peppers left to go. Its been a very, very busy summer! 
I have also begun the work of pulling the tomato plants and cages, pulling the dead vines of this and that off the trellis. I think we are in for a early fall. I hope so! We have had a much better summer this year then we have had in many summers! But we are Texas hot now and we need rain. I won't complain though as I said we have had a much better summer this year than we have in a long long time, temperature wise and rain wise!

I have also been pegging plant limbs right and left into pots of dirt to root off new starts. I have done some blackberries, raspberries, lady banks roses, regular roses. I plan on doing some Texas Lilacs and a few other things as well!

I have taken cuttings and have many, many starts I hope of stevia. I saw on pinterest how to root it off from little cuttings using perlite so I am giving it a whirl! I read stevia is difficult to start from seed that you are better off doing cuttings. I did a lot so if even a good portion root I will have many new stevia plants which will require a new big bed for them! But I will have time before next spring to get that bed made. I also pegged a few stevia branches as well just in case these little cuttings decide not to root LOL. 

I will do a post with photos next time :O)

337 Jars and counting

I have been canning every single day! The garden out did itself this year!
I am at 337 jars as of today.

Tired? Why yes, yes I am LOL... But I am getting close  now to being done for this canning season.  So much  yummy healthy chemical free, preservative free,  pesticide free.....  organic goodies in our pantry!!!

I picked the spaghetti squash it was ready. Ya'll remember the photos of the vines, how they grew and grew and grew some more LOL and were loaded with spaghetti squash... 32 to be exact!! Wooowhooo what a haul! Those are winter squash and my experience has been they keep very well!


Preserving in new to me ways... whats blooming and seed giveaway

I have not had time to do anything with the eggplants. We have eaten some fresh but I want to preserve some as well. Eggplants are one of those vegetables that are not easy to preserve. There are just a few ways I know of. 

Then in a book called Perfect Preserves by Nora Carey there is a recipe for eggplant preserved in olive oil. Now as most of you guys know here in the USA  we don't do a lot of that type preserving as the FDA pretty much frowns on this and has assured us it will make us deathly ill if we do this LOL... ok so I am making fun of the FDA, a girl has to have some fun sometimes! This author is from Europe. This is a gorgeous book and worth owning just for the photos alone! Beautiful garden photos along with the photos of the foods etc. It has all sorts of ways to preserve food that are not the norm here. It also has recipes for meals to make from the food you preserve which I think is nice. One way I plan to use some of the preserved eggplant is on a pizza  as she shows it in the book. The book is out of print, but I was able to pick up a like new used copy last year on Amazon for just a couple dollars. 

I had to open a jar of the pickled cherry tomatoes... mmmmmmm they are good. Think salty like a dill pickled but not sour like a dill pickle. They are really good and I am canning more. Link the the Pickled Cherry tomatoes recipe  I did prick mine with a bamboo skewer. Just a small hole. The recipe says slice but I wanted mine whole. It worked great. They float a dab but just fill the jar snug without squishing them and that works out pretty good. 

I think the perfect cherry tomato for this recipe would be the principe borghese, this cherry tomato is used to dry because its a meaty cherry tomato. I grew it last year and it made and made and made... However since I didn't get to start my own seedlings this year. I didn't get to grow it. sighhh...This next year I will be able to start my own seedlings again :O) and its on the list.   I saved quite a few seeds off them. So I think I will do a seed give away! Anyone want to have their name put in the hat for some principe borghese seeds, just say so in a comment and I will do a drawing and mail the person the seeds :O)... 

 Will you look at these titger lilies! My new favorite flower, for today :O).  I saw little black lumps on the stem at the leaves... I thought ... could it be? Yes it is! Seeds! I read that they are very easy to propagate from seeds. So I have harvested the seeds, put them in the fridge like it said to. Then I will plant them as directed and hope I get some more of these gorgeous plants!

 Not to be left out of showiness LOL My Stargazer lilies are finallllllllllllllly going to bloom. I bought these bulbs on clearance two years ago and planted them. Nothing much happened last year. Oh they came up but they were pretty much do nothing little plants and no blooms showed up. So this year they came up and I got all excited because the plants looked much better. But then nothing, nothing, then about a month ago I saw them setting flowers! So finally they are going to open!! These lilies smell fantastic. I planted them as much for their fragrance as how pretty they are!

Canning all day

The way everything is coming off the garden its a bit of this and a bit of that instead of tons of this and tons of that all at once.... 
Without a doubt the cooler temps still staying below 100 actual degrees, though we have gone over 100 in our heat index... and the rain!!! The wonderful, wonderful rain we are still getting!! Both things have totally changed the way the garden is acting and doing... but that's okay.. I can work with small batches!

I did 7 quarts of whole dill pickles... Six 10 oz jars of whole cherry tomatoes, this is a new recipe for me and I am very excited about this. I will be opening a jar of these in a couple weeks to see what I think. If they are as good as I think they will be I will do more for sure. One 12 ounce jar of pickled sliced jalapenos.

 Are these just pretty or what!

 MMMM Dill Pickles!
 Thirteen 12 ounce jars of spiced tomato sauce. think Rotel.  I wasn't sure I could call my umm Spiced tomato sauce Rotel It taste just like it and we use a lot of this here. I was able to do a full batch on these! By the skin of my teeth I had enough tomatoes and jalapenos!

Did this all in one day and I  can tell you I was wore out. It took allll day to do it too. By the time I had the kitchen all cleaned up and everything washed, dried  and put away I was pretty well done in.  :O)
What a great day! 

Always fun to pick the garden

Its raining today again :O)... it rained yesterday! I picked the garden in the rain yesterday morning, just a lovely drizzling rain. It did that all day!
This was my haul from yesterday.
 The green tomatoes were picked due to a broken branch. they were all three on a small branch and it had broke. So I brought them inside to ripen. I usually pick my tomatoes shy of being ripe and let them finish inside or seems a bird inevitably will have a bite LOL... but those green ones are way greener than I would pick them usually.

This is what I picked this morning, in the rain :O)

 Its seem the birds are liking everything I planted this year. I have issues with them taking bites out of my tomatoes as I mentioned above so as I said I have learned to pick early and let them finish inside, but this year they seem a bit more fiesty with their efforts! I had another broken limb so got a couple more green tomatoes as well. I would have really liked to have left some of those tomatoes on the vine another day but I didn't feel I dared to do it with the birds being so piggy this year. My blackberries are getting ripe but I see the birds have discovered them as well. I am going to have to really pay close attention on getting them picked. I think they are getting about half right now. ;O( I surely don't want that to continue. I have some netting I may have to see if I can toss that over them. Funny how this year the birds are much more aggressive in my garden. I wonder why. 

I canned all day yesterday an will be doing so again today. Thats another post :O)

Then and Now

I was looking at some photos, how things have progressed here. :O) 
Me on the tractor disking up the square where our front garden is now. Just a big square then. 
I grew a garden in rows a couple years this way .....

Then,  Beds to grow in with wire bottoms... due to the moles!

 Then we decided to do some hoop frames, we used PVC to start with. It was fairly cheap. The shade cloth was a dumpster rescue off a job. We wanted to see if they would work. Keep the garden from burning up once we started hitting that over 100's ... It works for the plants... but the PVC didn't last anytime. The heat here destroyed it pretty fast. We also had one winter that we got that unreal amount of snow which did a fair amount of damage. We fixed them several times and then said.. ok we know they work so lets go for metal.

 Now we have this . Metal hoop houses that are like what the commercial growers here use. 
Now we have as of this year the new black shade covers we purchased. 50% shade so they allow more light then the free dumpster cloth, but that dumpster cloth allowed us to test this out for free! My garden did well under for the couple years we used it, but I knew it would do even better under a bit less shade density.

The roses we put in a couple years ago to grow the rose fence around the fruit orchard...

 Now amazingly just a couple short years later! They have exceeded our expectations. 

Herbs and Spices

I grow a fair amount of herbs and spices, for both culinary and medicinal uses.
But I can't grow them all! Due to either space, time or climate. 

I buy what I can't grow myself from Mountain Rose Herbs. I cook a lot and you guys know I can a lot and we use medicinal herbs frequently at our home, so I tend to buy in larger quantity than maybe some would. You can purchase 4 oz, 8 oz ,1 lb from them. 
Their products are Organic this is important to us. I have bought from them for a few years now and I have never once been disappointed in anything I have purchased from them. 

Their herbs and spices that you buy in bulk come in heavy gauge zip lock bags with a lovely label on them.  I store my herbs and spices just like I do food. In glass jars with air tight lids. But don't throw those zip lock bags away until you take that label off! It peels right off the bag easily and will re-stick wonderfully to the jar! I really like that :O)

 You can see the labels I peeled off their bags and placed on the jars. It has plenty of sticky to just stick it right on  the jar and it stays.

The flavor and quality of their products speaks for itself .  If  you only use them for culinary purposes and not medicinal I can tell you the difference between theirs and what you buy at the grocery store flavor wise and quality wise is night and day, no exaggeration. The color, the smell, the taste soooo much better. 

They carry a huge selection, the best I have seen in both culinary and or medicinal. 
They have  photos and info on each item they sell. So no guessing. I like that too! They also carry products for making your own soaps,lotions etc. They carry teas. They carry some prepared medicinal herbs already capped. Some already prepared body care products. Well just several other items, lots to look at on their site. 

If you buy X amount of lbs you get a discount which is very easy to do if you use a lot of culinary and or medicinal herbs. The discount goes up by the number of lbs you buy. You can combine for the discount. So each lb of something you buy counts toward the total discount. 

Store them in glass jars with air tight lids out of direct sunlight and their shelf life is very good. 

If you don't use enough to buy by the pound then you can get 4 oz which is a nice size amount that will usually fit in a jelly size jar for storage. Sometimes a pint jar depending on what it is, as you would expect a dried leaf spice 4 oz will be more in volume than say 4 oz of whole nutmegs. Which by the way if you don't use whole nutmeg and grate it as you need it, oh my do yourself a favor and try it! Major difference! I love their whole nutmegs.

My advice is to wait till you have a larger order or maybe your neighbor or coworkers would want to order something too. Shipping is higher everywhere now, how well I know this as I ship for my store and for the Interior Design Store whose online fabric sales I handle. It never ceases to amaze me what it cost to ship these days.. Mountain Rose Herbs ships UPS so your items get to you in a timely manner but you will come out ahead if you place a larger order rather than several small ones.

So anyway I am just sharing this information... as I learned about them from other bloggers as well! I don't work for them. I am not getting anything in return for this post. 
I just really like this companies products. Feel they are good quality, fairly priced for what they are and the customer service is very good.

How did I miss these guys

So I go out to the back garden and am looking at everything, just like I do every day. Then I see what appears to be a giant Zuch on one of my Zuch plants. I wasn't by them I was across the way from them. I thought that can't be a Zuch? I go over there and yes it is a giant Zuch approximately 14 " long LOL and not only is it there but there is another one on another plant and then one more bigger one as well....  I would normally never let a Zuch get this big LOL.. Geesh then a regular sized one LOL... Now what is odd is I check that garden every day. I look at those Zuchs every day!. Just night before I cut off a bunch of leaves off them I fed to the girls (chickens)  Didn't see them then.....I looked for squash bugs as I do daily, how on earth I missed these for the number of days it took them to get this big is beyond me LOL...
But all is not lost... I can use the meat for the Zuch sweet relish I make .. just de-seed and use the flesh.It gets chopped pretty small for relish. Or I can de-seed and can the meat for use in breads and casseroles etc.  Worse case if you have these and no use for them at this size.. The girls(chickens) would love them!

Baby chick, composting and water conservation.

Ya'll remember baby chick.
 Hasn't it grown. I say it because I am still not sure if its a hen or rooster LOL. Hoping for a hen. Just have to wait till it gets bigger. It has done wonderful. Broody has been a super Mom to it. 

Here we have a tree/large shrub that is called a Texas Lilac, Vitex, Chaste Tree and a couple other names. 
We have several planted at our place. They grow fast, they are stunning when in bloom. You can cut them up on the bottoms and have a nice ornamental tree like a crape myrtle or you can let them grow as is and you have a giant shrub. They get to be approximately 10'x15' big. These in the photos below are around the chicken corral so I have left them as shrubs for now. I am not sure if I will cut them as trees or not. They smell good, the butterflies cover them and the bumble bees love them. They even have medicinal value. They are drought tolerant once established. They take our heat and sun just fine. Whats not to love. The ones in the photos below are only a couple years old! They grow fast.

 The two below for some reason have out grown the others by far. I will assume there is something in the soil or maybe they were just stronger starts. I don't know. I have Tatsume Squash planted down the fence under them on this side. Since I planted a bazillion Daffodils around them to keep the moles from eating their roots off, which over all has worked well, the daffodils.  Up until just recently I had not had one mole encounter since planting the daffodils last fall. But down at the far end, I didn't plant any daffodils... Don't know why LOL. Well some mole came back and it chewed the roots off that end Texas Lilac, It looked really bad. I dug it up. I potted it in some really good dirt. Kept it watered and its making a great recovery. I will be able to plant it some where again. I had another Texas Lilac so I planted it in that spot and some more daffodils! So far so good.

These are tree seedlings I started from seed. 

 Planted some veggy seeds this last week.  For what will be my fall garden. Have several more seeds to get planted. I bought one of those soil blocker tools that you make your own soil blocks for starting seedlings. I am going to use it for my other seeds. I had these pete pellets left and decided to use them up. It was raining that day and I was itching to do something gardening wise so I got out the last of these and planted them :O).

 My fig tree one of many I have planted, most have died. I thought this one was dead. But look, its not!~
I put three rings of daffodils bulbs around this guy. Mole prevention. 

 Fruit orchard is doing great, though we will not get fruit this year. We had a very late freeze and the trees were in bloom. It was a hard freeze. Poof that did in the fruit. I have decided to look at it this way. It gives the trees another year to root in before the strain of producing fruit.  They are only a couple years in. Though they have grown so large its hard to believe. This was our third attempt at getting fruit trees to take. I was ready to say that's it if these didn't live. We piled 12" of wood chips on top of the ground  and I put in a drip hose. This year we didn't have any wood chips so we piled hay about that deep on top of the wood chips, lot of the chips had decomposed. We will continue to do this every year. We covered the entire orchard with the wood chips not just rings. We did the same with the hay. Its made ALL the difference in the world. I could not keep the trees watered before. Plus we had mole issues! Knock on daffodils they have left these alone! Last year I only watered this orchard 3 times. I used the drip hose I had put in and I watered deep each time I did water.  That is amazing 3 times given our heat here. This year I have not gvien them a drop as we have had rain and all that mulch is holding the water nicely for them...I saw this type method on a video called Back to Eden. I don't have the link handy to it but if you google Back to Eden video and just go the official site,  you will find it. Its a free watch. Its very long like a hour. Get you a cup of tea its enjoyable to watch.  Its sooooooo worth watching. It has forever changed the way we garden. If you live where water is scarce, you don't get much rain etc. take the time to watch it. Where he lives he gets even less rain than we do! BUT he does not get the scorching heat we do. So I do have to water some even using this method but I don't water like I used to! I continue to work doing anything I can to use less and less water.  This also builds your soil. He explain the whole thing in his movie/video.
If you cannot get wood chips which he uses, hay works wonderful. I know people say you will grow hay and weeds if you use it.. Well you guys have seen it piled in my vegetable garden. That simply isn't the case. I have since read a lot of articles on people using hay and they are saying the same thing. Its a wonderful mulch and works great. Stray is so stiff and it doe not give the nutrient level to your ground as it composts that hay does, so I have read. I also use push mower with bag to mow as much as I can. Ok let me clarify that I have a self propelled push mower with bagger so no I am not pushing it without some help LOL. Never waste those clippings! For one the girls(chickens) get a few bags each time as they love them. The rest goes straight down around something, a shrub, a flower bed, dumped in the fruit orchard. To fill Keepers giant holes he digs LOL Thats another post but it has actually stopped him digging where I use those.
Leaves, I mow up all the leaves we have and I use them right out of the bagger as well, Same places.
 For some perspective on how tall the roses are, That is honeyman. He is twisting some Pink wisteria vines around the post by the gates. Keeper is obviously focused on something he sees on the ground LOL.
Keeper is sporting his summer hair cut. 

 Honeyman again, just cuz I got another picture :O)...  Honeyman is not a gardener, its not his thing. But he likes Wisteria. He specifically asked about putting it on the post around the gate. I said great idea! So I got two pink ones to put there. It was all I could find at the nursery at the time. So he always works the vines onto the post and keeps it moving up. I find it funny in a way cuz he truly does not like to garden, mess with the plants. He enjoys the gardens and how pretty it all looks but he doesn't like to do gardening or deal with the plants etc. He likes for me to do it ROFL... But now he does help me.. He builds what I need building. He built the hoop frames for the veggy garden. He and I both built the raised beds. He built the gate and surround here in the photo. He builds the fencing.  He does that end of the gardening. If I need a really big hole that is a bit much for me to take on to plant a tree or something he will do that for me too :O)
I didn't even know Wisteria came in pink. I usually only see purple. So far it has not bloomed. I hope it will as its the only flower honeyman has asked me to plant. I have three more Wisteria I am going to plant somewhere. They roots were given to me last year and I know have them up a nice sized plant in pots, they are the purple ones. 

 Our driveway. I have always liked our driveway. Our home sits a good 1/4 mile off the road.

 Keeper is surveying his kingdom LOL , he looks so cute with his new cut :O). I did it myself. He was so good. As long as he gets tummy rubs he is game for just about anything ROFL. 

Everyday its garden, garden and garden some more :O) ... plus canning :O)

I am beyond happy with my gardens this year! I think its safe to say they are the best I have ever had here. I am having a hard time being inside at all this summer! We are having a good summer.
We have had rain! More rain than we usually have!... Shocking I know but its true! What rain water does for plants! All the watering in the world from a water hose cannot do for a garden or any plant what rain can do!
The temperatures have stayed below 100 so far as well!!!

I have been canning something on a regular basis as of late! Dill Pickles, Pickled Banana peppers slices, Pickle Jalapeno slices. Vadalia Onion Relish. I love pickled food. I LOVE dill pickles. I go through a jar a week darn near. LOL. Tomatoes are not ripe yet so havent got into canning of tomato stuff yet. 

I must tell you, there are many places easier to garden than in Texas where I live. The heat is usually horrible. Rain is hard to come by at best. The sun can cook the leaves right off a plant, I am not kidding. Its happened to me more than once. Where we live its hotter than say south Texas go figure and it drier as well. I always find it odd how we are hotter than down south, say Houston etc. Then go a bit further Galveston and they have even better temps! But they are further south, I just find that so odd... 

I have the shade covers on the front garden now and I usually raise them on the sides in the mornings and then when we hit the heat of the day I lower them down the sides all the way.

Last evening I spent four hours tieing up berry bushes ... I am no where near done. My blackberries and raspberries are out of control.   They have over grown the walkways! Which just tickles me pink I must tell you! Keeper is inspecting the work, he says Good Job Mom......As you can see ahead of him the row is completely impassable with limbs from the raspberry bushes. I haven't got that far yet LOL.

 I do have all the Kiowa Blackberries done. Whew that was a very ouchy job as the thorns on Kiowa blackberries are unlike any I have encountered on any other blackberry with thorns.. whew mean they are! But these berries do very well here where I live. The extreme heat doesn't phase them and they don't require a lot of water.. They are happy to get it but don't have to have it to survive and make berries. 
 I have the thorn-less blackberries down the long side of the garden done as well. These are Navaho, Arapaho and Quachita .. these berries do well here but they do require more water and more care in general or that has been my experience with them here. They are a joy to work with and pick I must say though. Not a thorn on them :O).
 The rest of the thornless berry row.
 Got this group of tomatillos tied up. I was not vigilant about keeping them inside the cages and then some over grew the tops of the cages. I had one 54 inch cage. I will be getting a few more of those big cages for next year for my tomatillos. They simply get HUGE. They break very easily too so I will make sure I keep them tucked inside the cages as they grow next year. For this year I have just tied them up the best I can. 
I picked a nice size bowl of them last night! They will become jars of Salsa Verde!!! mmm
 So you guys remember the hybrid spaghetti squash I showed you before... well this it is!! The thing is growing down the row on top of the pepper cages now.. my goodness but these vines do get HUGE. 
 Let me show you how many squash they are making! Never before have I had spaghetti squash put on like these are! If I got 4-5 off a whole trellis of vines on the others I was lucky. These are covered I don't even know how many are on here but these is a look at how they are all over it. I pulled back some leaves so you can see! They turn yellow on the vine. I hope these vines will stay as healthy as they are now while they ripen. I always had a hard time keeping the vine healthy long enough for the squash to ripen as its takes them the better part of the summer. Spaghetti Squash are winter squash and its been my experience they store a good long time. 

 Remember how sad my cucumber vines looked and  I had planted cucumbers 4 times this year LOL ... kept loosing them to rolly pollys and the freezing weather we got late did some in... wellllll look at them now! Can we say "Thank You Rain" .. oh ya ...  

As you can see I have put on the shade covers on our hoops frames... this is the new shade cloth we got this year. Its 50%. Its not near as dense as the other we were using and I think its better for the veggy garden. Its enough I think but not to much. Very pleased with it thus far. I push them up on the sides till about mid day or so and then I slide the covers all the way back down. 
Below Zuchs and tomatoes...
I don't know what is up with the Zuchs and Yellow Crook Neck Squash. I am loosing probably 8 of every 10 to rot. I get about two full sized ones out of 10. I have done everything I know to do to fix a calcium deficiency if that is even the issue, I am doubting it now. All I can do is watch and pick early. If I see one is going to make it I can kinda tell now by looking I can let it go to full size. Otherwise the minute I see its not goin to I pick it and we just eat miniature squash LOL
 Below is the row with the giant spaghetti squash on the right then on the left I have some Yellow Patty Pan type. My best bud shared these seeds with me and wow they are great! They will go in again every year. They are not rotting like the zuchs and yellow crook neck! They are very prolific makers... 
 These are the squash they make. I picked these this morning. 

Below cucumbers and tomatoes and some yellow squash further up and then swiss chard that is still doing well thanks to the big tree at the end of my garden and the shade covers.